Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 11: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays , October 14, 2016

February 13, June 14, October 14
Chapter 11: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays

On Sunday
the hour of rising for the Night Office should be earlier.
In that Office let the measure already prescribed be kept,
namely the singing of six Psalms and a verse.
Then let all be seated on the benches in their proper order
while the lessons and their responsories are read from the book,
as we said above.
These shall be four in number,
with the chanter saying the “Glory be to the Father”
in the fourth responsory only,
and all rising reverently as soon as he begins it.

After these lessons
let six more Psalms with antiphons follow in order, as before,
and a verse;
and then let four more lessons be read with their responsories
in the same way as the former.

After these let there be three canticles
from the book of the Prophets,
as the Abbot shall appoint,
and let these canticles be chanted with “Alleluia.”
Then when the verse has been said
and the Abbot has given the blessing,
let four more lessons be read,
from the New Testament,
in the manner prescribed above.

After the fourth responsory
let the Abbot begin the hymn “We praise You, O God.”
When this is finished
the Abbot shall read the lesson from the book of the Gospels,
while all stand in reverence and awe.
At the end let all answer “Amen,”
and let the Abbot proceed at once
to the hymn “To You be praise.”
After the blessing has been given,
let them begin the Morning Office.

This order for the Night Office on Sunday
shall be observed the year around,
both summer and winter;
unless it should happen (which God forbid)
that the brethren be late in rising,
in which case the lessons or the responsories
will have to be shortened somewhat.
Let every precaution be taken, however,
against such an occurrence;
but if it does happen,
then the one through whose neglect it has come about
should make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.

Some thoughts:
Perhaps this seems a formidable amount of Scripture to read on Sundays. Again maybe a little history may help us get a perspective. The Desert Christians, Benedict’s role models, used to stay up all night Saturday. They would gather for what they called synaxis. They would pray the Psalms all night long and at dawn share an agape meal. This would be followed by more psalms so that the monks would have been up for twenty-four hours. By comparison, Benedict’s monks had it easy.
But it doesn’t seem easy to us today, does it? Some of us work, some of us need Sunday for life maintenance chores, family, or just plain fun. Clearly, Benedict thought of Sunday differently than we. What does Sunday mean to you? Other than church, what makes Sunday the Lord’s Day for you?
Personally, I am saddened by some things that have changed on Sundays. I remember when Sunday was a quiet day. Stores were not open. Traffic was minimal. Then store owners successfully prevailed upon city councilors etc to open their stores on the Sundays of Advent for Christmas shopping. A few short years later, all stores are open in Sundays and Sunday is no longer a quiet day.
After that various schools started scheduling athletic activities on Sunda mornings. NFL games started to be played on Sundays. People would not go to church in favor of watching their kids play or to tailgate before the game.
While I understand what with people working very odd shifts, that the stores are open might be a service to them. But I truly do miss quiet Sundays.
More importantly, what does Sunday mean to us? Is it just another weekend day. Benedict clearly believes it is a day to pursue holiness

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